Dr. Alan Shiner - Quotable Experiences

In his 30+ year career as bandleader, songwriter and dentist, Dr. Alan Shiner has had the opportunity to play with a diverse and extensive group of entertainers and clientele. As a result, Shiner has amassed a lifetime’s worth of anecdotes. The following is a handful of notable experiences in Shiner’s own words.

Quotes included here:
- On pitching and recording an original composition with Mariah Carey
- On writing the ‘967-11-11’ jingle for Pizza Pizza
- On playing with singer Tina Turner
- On having Paul Shaffer of Late Show with David Letterman substitute for Shiner early in their respective careers for CBC variety show

On meeting and recording an original composition with Mariah Carey:

“When Mariah Carey was in Toronto several years ago, I was able to get her to listen to a demo of a song called ‘First Mistake,’ which was co-written with the female vocalists from Nova Sounds (Shiner’s live event band).”

“I was looking to pitch a commercial jingle when Mariah had just finished a press conference in the building I was in. I happened to have a demo of ‘First Mistake’ in my car. I ran out for the demo, came back in and she was walking out of the studio. I was lucky I got through Mariah’s entourage.”

“I walked over to Mariah and said, ‘I wrote this song for Céline Dion, would you like to hear it?’ According to the press, she wasn’t getting along with Céline at the time, so Mariah listened to the tune right then and there. She liked it, and we worked on the tune at a nearby piano for an hour. We even played some of her earlier hits since I played them often with Nova Sounds. She turned to me and asked how I knew all her tunes. I replied, ‘I play them at bar mitzvahs.’ She laughed and thought I was joking, but it was the truth.”

“I thought that would be it and I’d never hear from her again. The next thing I know, Mariah’s people called me and flew me to London (England) to demo ‘First Mistake.’ I was in London for a week and got to record the song with some of my idols, such as Babyface and Walter Afanasieff, who both co-produced the track. One handled the rhythm section of which I was a part, while the other handled a string section borrowed from the London Symphony Orchestra. There was a deal cut for exclusive use of the song, but unfortunately, Mariah’s own record deal fell apart soon afterwards. It was a fantastic experience, even if it was the lucky break that never was.”

On writing the ubiquitous Toronto-area commercial jingle ‘967-11-11’ for Pizza Pizza:

“I was picking up a friend and waiting in the driveway, and [the Pizza Pizza job] had just been handed to me. The phone number itself had just been purchased from another company. I wrote the tune in 15 minutes while waiting in someone’s driveway, and it’s still being used.”

“I’ve heard from friends that the Pizza Pizza jingle is one test question for Canadians crossing the border from the U.S. to find out if they’re really from Toronto. [Border officials] would say, ‘Sing the Pizza Pizza commercial.’ If you knew it, they’d let you in.”

On playing with Tina Turner, who by chance, was in the audience when Shiner’s band played at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto:

“A couple of years ago, Nova Sounds was the house band at the Windsor Arms Hotel. Tina was in-town for a Toronto concert and was staying at the Windsor Arms. However, you might recall she had a virus and had to delay her show by a week. While she was recuperating, Tina had to call downstairs to shut our band down early so she could get some sleep.”

“When Tina was back in Toronto to make-up the postponed concert, our band was still playing at the Windsor Arms. We were playing ‘Simply The Best,’ and didn’t know Tina was in the room sitting in the corner. We saw her and called her over to join us, so she sang with us.”

On Paul Shaffer (Music Director of the CBS Orchestra for Late Show with David Letterman) as Shiner’s occasional substitute as Music Director for CBC’s early-1970’s variety show ‘Marc’s Grab Bag,’ during which time Shiner was also completing dental studies at the University of Toronto:

“Paul was hanging out at the CBC studio when Mary Ann McDonald (who had performed with Paul in the 1972 Toronto production of Godspell) was first a guest. Paul came back to the studio several times and was friends with the host. We got to know Paul, and he actually ‘sub-bed’ for me whenever I had to miss a show because I was in dental school. That usually happened when there was a dental exam scheduled on the same day as tapings.”

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For more information:

Alan Shiner, Creative Director & President
Tel: 416-926-1918
Email: alan@novasounds.ca

Sasa Shorteno, Promotion and Marketing Manager
Tel: 416-926-1918, Cell: 416-333-7975
Email: sasa@novasounds.ca

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